Friday, December 17, 2010

Because terrorist anchor babies are the biggest problem facing America today

Andrew Sullivan is highlighting a study that shows that while all voters were impressively misinformed about basic matters of fact in the 2010 elections, Fox News viewers are really in a whole other class.

In general, I drift more towards the "there is nothing new under the sun" side of every argument. Voters have always believed the wildest kinds of rumors, impartial media was a blip on the radar if it ever existed at all, and politics has always been bitterly partisan.

However, it does occur to me that Fox News is something new. When else in history have people been able to immerse themselves 24 hours a day in reinforcing views? When the media was dominated by the broadcast news, people could split off with their own interpretations and partisan spin, but at least they were all getting exposed to the same facts. When the media was dominated by partisan newspapers...well every presidential biography I've read seems to describe the way that men who followed politics would gather downtown and discuss & debates issues, so a person's sources of information could only be as homogeneous as the place that he lived. Now, the people who might have been engaged in that discussion can sate their appetite for political information staying in their living rooms with Sean Hannity whispering in their ear that they're right about everything, and not risk offending neighbors or coworkers by engaging them. It doesn't seem impossible that this might have something to do with the fact that we currently have a Republican party that is completely detached from scientific reality on evolution and global warming, completely detached from economic reality on tax cuts and the deficit, and completely detached from political reality on Obama's radicalism.

What we do about it though...I don't know.

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